SAN ANTONIO — J.J. Peterson has a few days before he announces his college choice during Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The elite linebacker from Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) could change his mind, but that’s not likely.
“I’m going to Tennessee and it’s not because of (new head coach Jeremy) Pruitt, (Kevin) Sherrer or the coach who’s coming from Florida State (Charles Kelly),” Peterson said. “I’ve got two players (from Colquitt) who are there in (redshirt freshman defensive lineman) Ja’Quain Blakely and (freshman defensive back) Shawn Shamburger. Those are two people I can start something with and every time I play with them, I have a good time.”
Landing a player of Peterson’s caliber would go a long way in helping turn things around at Tennessee. The Vols lost five-star offensive lineman Cade Mays last month shortly before Butch Jones was fired, but Peterson is the No. 2-ranked outside linebacker by 247Sports and he backed up that rating by making 110 tackles and five sacks this past season. In four years, he’s helped the Packers win two state titles and play for three.
“I’m not going to go in there with a big head,” Peterson said. “I’m going there to work. I’m very humble, but when we put on the pads, it’s another story.”
The chance to have an immediate impact weighed in his decision to choose the Vols over Alabama or Auburn.
“I have a good relationship with all the coaches there,” Peterson said. “They may not put me over the dudes who are already there, but at least they will give me a chance.”
Colquitt County football coach Rush Propst has told Peterson stories about Pruitt, who was on Propst’s staff from 2004 to 2006 at Hoover, Ala.
“Coach Pruitt went hunting and left coach Propst out there, where they actually had to go back and get him,” Peterson said. “I think they left him on the deer stand.”